No, We’re Not In Texas Anymore

Here are three ways to know you no longer live in Texas, but Alaska:

It’s May 10th at 6:20 am. You take your dogs outside to do their business and get the newspaper and

1. It is fully light outside.
2. There are snow flurries falling from the sky.
3. Your labrador retriever frightens off a moose.

One of these days these details will no longer shock me, but right now, five months in to our adventure, they still do.

First Alaskan Camping Experience

Our new pop-up camper

Oh yes we did! We are now the owners of a pop-up camper. The kids love it and we took it out for it’s first trip last weekend. It is now fully broken in as it rained on us most of the weekend. I received a few crazy looks before our trip, “You’re going camping already? We never go camping before Mother’s Day. Camping? In April? In a pop-up?” I told Todd before we left that I was now slightly worried.

We headed south to Seward. We wanted to go before all the tourists arrived. We camped at a place called Miller’s Landing. If we were crazy, we weren’t the only ones. There were several other families out as well. We even saw two campgrounds with tent campers!

It was 45 degrees F and drizzling most of the weekend. Our pop-up does have heat, so between the heat and our super cozy sleeping bags, we were never cold at night. The rain was a little more frustrating. Now to be clear, the rain was pretty much a constant drizzle, not a Texas thunderstorm, gully washer type of rain. Nevertheless, the rain could have presented a problem if we had stayed at the campground all weekend, but we had some in town activities planned.

On Saturday, we took the kids on a grey whale watching tour. It sounds very touristy and it is, but all of this is new to us, so we’re pretty much doing the touristy things. And we weren’t the only ones. In fact, most of the people on the boat were Alaskans doing the same thing – doing the tourist thing before the tourists arrived. We didn’t see any grey whales, but we did see several humpback whales, sea lions, a sea otter, mountain goats and lots of birds. We also learned that ginger candy can help with sea sickness. We were all fine when the boat was in Resurrection Bay, but Audrey and I started feeling pretty quesy when the boat got out in the Gulf of Alaska. Luckily, we weren’t out in the Gulf for long and no one actually got sick. Yeah!!

When we got back to the campground that evening, the kids and I did some beach combing while Todd built a fire (in a drizzling rain – I love my former cub scout, engineer husband!) The kids and I didn’t find much beyond some mussel shells as it was high tide. I did get some cute pictures of them though. Later, we roasted marshmallows and made s’mores. By the way, the s’mores here don’t melt all over your hand. It’s too cold!!

Sunday morning we packed up and headed over to the Sea Life Center in Seward. This is an aquarium that also rehabilitates injured marine mammals and birds. They also do a lot of research on Arctic marine animals. The kids loved Woody, the 19 year old male sea lion. He’s huge!! Over a ton. I mean he’s massive! Of course, being kids, when you asked them what they liked best, it was the play boat that they could pretend to drive.

All in all, not a bad first camping experience. We have several trips planned for the summer. Here’s hoping it gets a little warmer.

Easter in Alaska

I’ve been meaning to write this post for weeks now.  I finally have a few minutes to sit, type and maybe put a coherent thought together.  Our family experienced our first Easter in Alaska a few weeks ago.  Very different than an Easter in Texas.  As a kid, I remember a few chilly Easters where I had to wear a sweater to Easter egg hunt.  This year, my kids had to put on full fledged snow gear to hunt for eggs.

The kids ready to look for eggs in the snow.

The eggs were hidden in snow. I’ve definitely never had that experience before! As my best friend back in Texas told me, “Well, at least you didn’t have to worry about the ants finding the eggs and the candy!” So true.

We hung out at home that morning, hunted eggs, had brunch and then went to an afternoon church service. And really, no matter where you are, Alaska or Texas, cold or hot, He is the reason we celebrate. I thank Him for all of my blessings: my husband, my children, the opportunity to live in such a beautiful place and yes, even to be lonely and learn to rely on Him alone.

Easter 2012, ready for church

A Little Astounded and Amazed

I use WordPress to write my blog.  One of its features is you can look at a section called Your Stats.  This allows you to see how many people have looked at your blog (though not who they are) and how they found it – Facebook, email, Google search, etc.  You can also see in which countries people have looked at your blog.

I started writing a few months ago to keep our friends and family updated on how our family is doing here in Alaska.  I don’t have very many overseas friends, so I didn’t expect to see any other countries.  I was a little shocked to see I’ve had two views in both Canada and England and 16 (!!) in Norway.  I don’t know anyone in Norway.  Amazing!

If you’re family or Texas friends, I hope you’ll keep following our family.  And if you’re someone who has somehow found my little blog on a Texas family’s adventure in Alaska, I’d like to say, “Hello, Hi, Howdy and Welcome!”  Please keep checking in on us.  And if I knew how to say that in Norwegian, I would. 🙂

Appropriate Footwear for a Break-up

Your shoe selection during a break-up can be dreadfully important.  No worries – Todd and I are doing well.  The snow and ice in Anchorage has finally decided it might be spring and it might need to start disappearing.  Thus we have entered the season known as… Break-up.  To be honest, it’s not one of Alaska’s prettier seasons.  It’s pretty gross in fact.  Slushy snow, ice and trash that’s been hidden under the snow is everywhere.  The ice on roads and in parking lots melts during the day and refreezes at night.  It makes for a sloshy mess during the day and some very slippery conditions during the early morning or late night hours.  Appropriate foot wear is a must (even if every inch of your high heel loving self screams that these are, in fact, the most ridiculous shoes you have ever worn!)

Family of break-up boots

The somewhat cute, girl boots in the middle are Bogs.  Those are the girls’ and mine.  Those lovely brown boots on the ends are known as XtraTufs.  Those belong to Todd and Jack.  I hear they’re standard issue in Juneau and that it is not unusual to see men wearing their suits with their pants tucked into a pair of XtraTufs.  In the 3 months we’ve been here, I’ve maybe worn 5 different pairs of shoes.  Snowboots and now Bogs have pretty much been my go to footwear.  Even if we’re going somewhere nice and I need to wear a pair of heels, I wear the Bogs, carry my heels, check the Bogs with my coat at the coat check and then put on my cute shoes.

Nordstrom had some adorable wedges for spring and summer…maybe I’ll get to wear them in June.

My “Famous” Boys

This weekend we drove out to Wasilla – yes, that Wasilla.  No, we didn’t see Sarah or any of the Palin bunch.  We drove out to attend the Mat-Su Valley Outdoorsman Show.  We wanted to get some ideas for fun things to do with the kids this summer.  Todd also wanted to get more information on the hunting and fishing available in the area.  We let the kids climb in a bunch of campers.  We sampled cupcakes from a woman that has a mobile bakery – delish!  Todd subscribed to the Alaska Fishing magazine.  Just generally looked around.

Near the end of our wanderings up and down the aisles, Todd and Jack were looking at a Dall sheep mount.  Turns out a photographer from the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper had taken their picture.  The photographer was super nice and let Jack see the picture of himself.  Sure enough it ended up in the Sunday paper.  I don’t have a hardcopy, but found the photo in their online version.  Here it is:

Todd and Jack check out the Dall sheep mount at the Mat Su Outdoorsman show.

On another note, I’d appreciate it if you kept my little guy, in your thoughts and prayers. We found out on Sunday that Jack has pneumonia.  He’s currently on antibiotics and doing breathing treatments and seems to be on the mend.  It hasn’t been a fun few days though.

Iditarod 2012 Update

I didn’t plan on it taking this long for me to post again.  Life with 3 young children has kept me busy the past couple of weeks.  I have a couple of ideas for my next posts.  They should be up more quickly.  I know all of you are waiting with baited breath….

My last post was about the ceremonial start to the Iditarod race.  Todd and I were able to help lead Anjanette Steer’s team to the start line and it was a blast!  The race is now over and I wanted to share the results with you.

Dallas Seavey (the musher Todd and I were able to take the super fun and cheesy picture with) won the 2012 Iditarod in nine days, four hours, 29 minutes and 26 seconds.  At 25, he became the youngest musher to win the race.  Aliy Zirkle came in one hour behind Seavey for a second place finish.  Anjanette Steer, the rookie Todd and I were following, came in 26th place.  Only one other rookie, Brent Sass, finished before her.  Finally, capturing the Red Lantern award for the last musher in to Nome, was rookie Jan Steves.

It was fun to watch how the entire city of Anchorage was engrossed with following the Iditarod.  Very different from Texas and football, but tons of fun anyway.

Iditarod 2012

As I get older, I value honesty and transparency more and more.  So to be honest, nothing about a cross-country move is easy.  There are days that have been quite difficult.  I don’t write about it too much because I don’t want this to be a Debbie Downer, woe-is-me journal of how I’m finding it hard to adjust to my new surroundings.  I try to keep it light and focus on all the incredible things our family is getting to experience.  I’ll be having a hard day, then I have to go pick one of the girls up from school and the view is astounding.  I’m surrounded by mountains.  I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains, so I remember to say a prayer of gratitude for this opportunity.

Today was one of those days where I just had to say, “Wow! What an amazing thing I just got to experience!”  It was a cross it off your bucket list kind of day.  Our family attended the ceremonial start of the 40th Iditarod Race.  Beyond attending the start, Todd and I got to be “musher handlers” this morning.  That means we helped lead a dog team to the start line.  I admit the name sounds odd.  Seems to me the title should be “dog handlers”.  We didn’t have to handle the musher at all. 🙂

We assisted Anjanette Steer with her team.  Anjanette is a rookie to the Iditarod.  Her husband, Zack, has run the race several times.  Now it’s her turn.

Anjanette, Zack and their support team hooked the dogs up to their lines.  The handlers then hooked onto the lines as well.  I think the handlers are really just there to keep the dogs from completely taking off.  The dogs are strong, fast and ready to race. It was all I could do to run in ankle deep snow and keep up with them.  All the meanwhile thinking, “whatever I do, don’t step on the dogs feet!”  We were very clearly told not to step on the dogs.  You can imagine why – we don’t want to injure a dog’s foot before the race even begins.

With Anjanette up front, we led the team down 4th Avenue to the start line.  After reaching the line, Anjanette boarded her sled, we unhooked our lines and waited for the count down.  3 – 2 – 1 – They were off!  It’s absolutely amazing to watch these dogs run.  They are incredible athletes.

Today’s portion of the race through Anchorage was ceremonial.  The official start is tomorrow afternoon, March 4th, in the town of Willow.  We’ll be following and cheering Anjanette on her nearly 1,000 mile journey.  You can follow Anjanette and all the other mushers at iditarod.com